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Unformatted text preview: doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2005.0307 , 299-302 1 2005 Biol. Lett. Matthew J Bruce, Astrid M Heiling and Marie E Herberstein Spider signals: are web decorations visible to birds and bees? References http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/1/3/299.full.html#related-urls Article cited in: http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/1/3/299.full.html#ref-list-1 This article cites 16 articles, 4 of which can be accessed free Email alerting service here right-hand corner of the article or click Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article - sign up in the box at the top http://rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org/subscriptions go to: Biol. Lett. To subscribe to This journal is 2005 The Royal Society on November 6, 2010 rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org Downloaded from Biol. Lett. (2005) 1 , 299302 doi:10.1098/rsbl.2005.0307 Published online 24 May 2005 Spider signals: are web decorations visible to birds and bees? Matthew J. Bruce * , Astrid M. Heiling and Marie E. Herberstein Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia * Author for correspondence ( email@example.com ) We are becoming increasingly aware of animal communication outside the range of human sensitivity. Web decorations are silk structures used by orb-web spiders to deceive prey and predators. However, despite the level of interest in these structures, their visibility to prey and predators has never, to our knowledge, been objectively assessed. Here, we use spectrophoto- metric analyses to show that the decorations of all five tested spider species are visible to honey bees and birds over short and long distances. Furthermore, the discoid decorations of one species may provide some protection against arthropod predators. However, these decora- tions are inefficient at camouflaging the spider against birds, despite the overlap between the spiders body and web decoration. Keywords: visual signals; chromatic contrast; achromatic contrast; stabilimenta; Argiope ; Zosis 1. INTRODUCTION The effect of signals on receivers is often difficult to interpret, especially if the signal is communicated outside human receptor sensitivities; for example, in ultraviolet channels ( Bennett et al . 1994 ). Behavioural tests can infer that a receiver can detect a signal only if a response is measured. This can result in consider- able controversy regarding whether a receiver detects a signal but ignores or simply cannot detect it. The century-old debate surrounding the visibility of web decorations ( Herberstein et al . 2000 ) is a classic example of this. Here, for first time, to our knowl- edge, we unambiguously demonstrate the level of visibility of web decorations to different classes of receivers, using new technologies in measuring signals and by incorporating receiver physiology. Our data will focus and rejuvenate this field, influence future studies and possibly resolve some controversy....
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